What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are surface veins that are enlarged, swollen and/or bulging due to underlying vein disease. Varicose veins most often appear on the thighs, back of the calves, and the inside of the leg. They can also appear on the hands and some women may experience varicose veins in the pelvic and buttocks area. Abnormal veins are categorized by their size. Varicose veins are the largest and often form a bulging/bump in the legs. Reticular veins are smaller than varicose veins and often have a bluish appearance. Spider veins are the smallest of the veins, measuring about 1-2mm, and often spread in a weblike pattern on the skin surface.

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What Causes Varicose Veins?

Many conditions can predispose people to forming varicose veins. The most common are family history, age, prolonged standing, pregnancy, hormonal changes related to ovulation or menopause, or an underlying vein condition. Varicose veins form when the valve within a superficial leg vein is damaged and no longer able to function properly. These valves normally help venous blood flow towards the heart from the legs, and when damaged blood is allowed to flow backwards (venous reflux) and pool within the veins within the legs. Over time, these veins become enlarged and distended and form into varicose veins. This process is a medical condition called Venous Reflux or Chronic Venous Insufficiency.

What are Symptoms of Venous Disease and Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are a medical condition and are often symptomatic and painful depending on the severity of disease. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from a form of Venous Reflux.

  • Leg pain/aching/cramping
  • Leg itching/burning/numbness
  • Skin changes/discoloration
  • Leg Restlessness
  • Leg or ankle swelling
  • Heavy feeling in legs
  • Varicose veins
  • Spider veins

How are Varicose Veins Treated?

Major advancements in image-guided minimally invasive technologies, mostly pioneered by Interventional Radiologists, has led to the development of quick, well tolerated procedures for the treatment of varicose veins. The most common and most widely accepted treatment option for varicose veins is endovenous thermal ablation, which used a small catheter to heat the vein from the inside to permanently close the abnormal vein. This procedure is performed using local anesthetic (injection of lidocaine solution as procedure site) and done entirely within the office. This procedure takes around 45 minutes and the patient is able to walk immediately and return to work the next day. Smaller veins such as reticular veins and spider veins are treated using sclerotherapy (injecting a tiny amount of irritant into the vein to close it) or surface laser therapy. Oceana Vein Specialists has dedicated their entire practice to the diagnosis and treatment of venous disease using these minimally invasive techniques.

Am I a Candidate for Varicose Vein Treatment?

A detailed venous ultrasound will be performed in our office at your visit. This ultrasound will determine if vein disease is present and the severity of the vein disease. Using information from this ultrasound, the appropriate treatment options, will be discussed with you and a treatment plan established.

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